First posted 01/09
I've been in the teaching business for 20+ years and I've seen plenty of funny things, sad things, poignant things, and you know, just........ things.
Due to this vast experience, I'm good at quickly assessing a situation and acting appropriately without ticking off anybody. I'm smooth like that.
But today I guess I just wasn't on my game. While walking through the halls during my free period I noticed a student sitting on the floor outside a classroom. His hoodie covered most of his face and the rest of his head was buried in his knees he had pulled up to his chest and wrapped his arms around.
I always stop to talk to students who seem to be in places they shouldn't be, because you just never know what's up with kids these days.
Our conversation went like this:
Me: Hey, are you okay?
Him: (Slowly looking up from under the hoodie.) Yeah
Me: Do you need anything?
Me: How about a glass of water...(and in a moment of insanity or stupidity, I said) or a cup of tea?
Him: (Thinking for a micro second) Yeah, a cup of tea would be nice.
I'm into the Republic of Tea this winter and it just so happened that I brought a few tea bags of my new favorite flavor, tangerine, to school. So, I went to the English department office kitchen and made this kid a cup of tangerine tea.
It was at this moment that my fantasy-camp mind started charging up and I began thinking, who knows, maybe my cup of tea will be the life-changing event for this kid and someday he'll remember what I did for him and thank me on national TV.
Don't judge me...okay? I can't stop the fantasy camp once it gets going.
Anyway, as I made the tea I noticed a dish of gumdrops on the counter, dry and hard and leftover from the holidays, but who cared? This poor kid clearly needed a pick-me-up.
I thought I'll just take a few for him. He seemed like he was having a bad day...and you know, in my mind, the gumdrops would be the icing on the cake. In twenty years he would definitely want to name a building after me.
So out to the hall I went, all pleased with myself and served this kid tangerine tea and gumdrops to make his day a little brighter. 'Cause there's nothing like sugar to put the "bright" in a kid's day.
Please hold your applause until the very end.
I went back to my desk in the English office intent on tackling the mid-terms and mountain of papers I had to grade. Five minutes passed and suddenly the office door flew open and a fellow English teacher with my tea and my gumdrops in his hand literally stomped past me and into the kitchen. He threw the gumdrops in the garbage and tossed the tea in the sink.
Intuitive person that I am, I asked:
Me: Mr. X are you okay? What's wrong?
Mr. X: (Talking between clenched teeth) I threw a kid out of class for totally unacceptable behavior and told him to sit on the floor in the hall for a while. Then some teacher came by and gave him gumdrops and tea!!
Me: (With my best wide-eyed, concerned look thinking, it was TANGERINE tea) Really? Oh gee, Hmmm...
I lowered my head, put pencil to paper as fast as I could and started grading papers with a fury the likes of which I've never done before.
A punch of air filled the office as the door slammed shut.